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‘Those who survive the bombing do not survive the hunger’: Northern Gaza resident

Recent findings from UN-affiliated partner organizations indicate a spike in general acute malnutrition among children aged six to 59 months in Gaza, with rates reaching 16.2%, surpassing the critical threshold set by the World Health Organization at 15%.

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published February 25,2024

Farouk Abu Qamar at 15 months can no longer cry from hunger — his stomach has been empty for days because of a severe food shortage in the northern Gaza Strip.

His father, Mahmoud Abu Qamar, accompanies him to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.

Thousands of Palestinians in northern Gaza are at risk of famine, especially children, as a result of the devastating war Israel has been waging on the enclave since Oct. 7.

Recent findings by UN-affiliated partner organizations suggest that general acute malnutrition has spiked in Gaza among children between six and 59 months old, reaching 16.2% and exceeding the critical threshold set by the World Health Organization at 15%.


"Farouk got sick due to the severe fatigue and emaciation that affected him as a result of food and water scarcity," Qamar told Anadolu.

"Every night, Farouk wakes up crying from extreme hunger but we cannot find anything to feed him, even the animal fodder that we used to eat is no longer available," he added.

To survive, residents of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip had been resorting to grinding animal fodder to obtain the flour needed to prepare bread. However, stocks of these grains are no longer available.

Those in northern Gaza suffer difficult conditions, often having to go days without food. Adults usually endure for longer periods so children can eat whatever is available.

"In the northern Gaza Strip, we live without rice, without vegetables, without flour, without any food supplies. Food and relief aid do not come in," said Qamar.

Ahmed Hammad, 3, lies on a nearby bed suffering from a very high fever. His father tries his best to relieve his temperature and pain by applying cold water compresses.

"The disease is mercilessly sweeping through my little child's body," said the father. "This body has been exhausted by a difficult life and endless famine. I do not know how to react to his cries while he is starving."

"We resorted to grinding animal feed and eating bird meat to alleviate our children's hunger," he said.

"I never imagined that we would come to this. I never expected that we would be forced to eat animal food," said Ahmed's father. "What is the fault of the children in the northern Gaza Strip?" he said, adding that "those who survive the bombing do not survive the hunger and thirst."

"We are dying of hunger. There is no food or water. We want the war to stop so that we can return to our normal lives," he added.

Residents in northern Gaza dug in the streets and sidewalks to access water lines quench their thirst, as Gaza faces severe water crisis.

On Feb. 16, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that in Jan. 1-Feb. 12, Israeli authorities denied access to 51% of the missions planned by humanitarian partner organizations to deliver aid and conduct assessments in areas of northern Gaza.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas. The ensuing Israeli war has killed more than 29,600 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 victims have been injured.

Less than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack while over 200 were taken back to Gaza as hostages.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe.